Back and forth over Astrazeneca's COVID-19 statement an 'unforced error' – Fauci

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a medical center in Champigny, near Paris, as France’s decision to suspend temporarily the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was taken in co-ordination with other European countries, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine is likely very good, but an independent review board was concerned about how the drugmaker presented data in a press release this week, top U.S. health official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday.

“This is likely a very good vaccine,” Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 medical adviser and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” program. “If you look at it, the data really are quite good but when they put it into the press release it wasn’t completely accurate.”

A data and safety monitoring board “got concerned” that the data in AstraZeneca’s public statement “were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit,” he added.

The board, a group of independent medical experts at the National Institutes of Health, which includes NIAID, contacted the company with their concerns about how the company laid out its data in its press release issued on Monday, Fauci said.

He added that the back and forth was “unfortunate,” calling it “an unforced error” that only adds to public doubts about vaccines and could possibly lead to more hesitancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which will review the company’s data when it seeks approval for its COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, “will independently go over every bit of data themselves” and not rely on any one interpretation, including the company’s, he added.

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